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In March, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administrator Cynthia Quarterman reminded Fast Lane readers that excavation damage remains a leading cause of serious pipeline incidents and that, "Damage to pipelines or other underground utilities can easily be prevented with a call to 811, the national hotline that connects you with a local utility locator."

I cannot emphasize to you strongly enough the importance of knowing what's below before you get out a shovel. Whether you're a professional contractor or an amateur gardener, please Call 811 before you get started on a project that requires any digging at all.

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Happy Earth Day, everyone! At DOT, we're working every day to better protect our planet – and I know Fast Lane readers are, too. 

America's transportation system accounts for 1/3 of our greenhouse gas emissions, more than 1/2 of our nitrogen oxide emissions, and almost 3/4 of our oil consumption. Greening that system is central to our nation’s efforts to increase sustainability and reduce climate change.

That’s why DOT is so focused on building more efficient, sustainable transportation. We're building marine highways that can cut greenhouse gas emissions; investing in a NextGen air traffic control system to lower aviation fuel consumption; building more capacity in our rail systems, which can be a more sustainable way to move both people and freight; and we’re helping drivers save money and lower their carbon footprint, too...

Photo of woman waiting for a bus

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It sure feels good to be home again after last week's "Invest In America, Commit to the Future" bus tour. But what we saw on our trip--and what we've heard from people around the country and state DOTs--has only motivated us to work harder to help bring this nation the transportation certainty Americans need.

The job of getting a multi-year transportation bill--one that funds the safe and dependable infrastructure our economic growth requires--continues, and we can't afford to rest until we've reached the finish line...

Meeting workers near the Ohio River Bridges in Kentucky

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Every year on Earth Day, our nation renews its focus on the environment and climate. This year at DOT, we're paying special attention to how transportation decisions have different environmental impacts on different communities. For example, more frequent transit service can mean less exhaust fumes on a neighborhood street. That could lead to better health for those residents. In addition to lower medical costs, better health also means fewer days of school or work missed because of illness, and that translates to better economic opportunity down the line.

As directed by President Obama, DOT's Departmental Office of Civil Rights (DOCR) and our Operating Administrations seek environmental justice, a concept that recognizes the junction between a healthy environment and social justice--for all people. Whether it’s new interstate highway construction, or a major airport project, we have a vested interest in avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects on marginalized populations--to preserve their health today and ensure reliable access to opportunity tomorrow. 

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This morning, our bus pulled up to its second-to-last stop: Garland, Texas, a city of about 200,000 outside Dallas.  

If you’ve been following along with our tour, you know that, at previous stops, my team and I have disembarked the bus to see infrastructure projects underway – highways, bridges, transit lines – all things that are helping improve lives and promote commerce. 

But I wasn’t in Garland to see anything, so to speak.  And that’s because there isn’t funding to build it. 

Photo of Secretary Foxx speaking at the Lyndon Johnson Freeway project event

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Yesterday’s leg of my “Invest in America, Commit to the Future” bus tour ended with a visit to the site of the I-49 North Segment K project currently under way in Shreveport, Louisiana.

A 19-mile segment opened last year, and construction workers are now completing the final mile of a 10-mile segment of the project, which is slated to open in May. 

It’s a remarkable effort, one eight years in the making.  And it’s going to make a huge difference – not just in the lives of the folks who live near there, but folks throughout the nation. 

Photo of Secretary Foxx at the I-49 North project event

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I started day four of my “Invest in America, Commit to the Future” bus tour by participating in a roundtable discussion with Congressman Bennie Thompson and local officials at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi.  It was a great opportunity to hear firsthand about the challenges facing the region and the need to create ladders of opportunity to connect folks to jobs, schools, and a better quality of life.

Photo of Secretary Foxx speaking at the roundtable meeting at Tougaloo College

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On Tuesday, we toured the UPS plant in Louisville, Kentucky, and I spent time with UPS CEO Scott Davis.

Scott is a first-rate leader and commands a team that moves millions of packages a day that come into and out of their one million square foot facility in an average of 13 minutes.  UPS moves packages in every way imaginable – by air, rail, truck, and ships.  Scott will tell you that, for every five minutes they can save on transporting packages, UPS saves $100 million.

Photo of Secretary Foxx with UPS CEO Scott Davis

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This afternoon, I headed to Birmingham, Alabama, where Mayor William Bell and local transportation officials took me for a ride on one of the city’s first hydrogen-powered full-cell buses and showed me downtown redevelopment efforts, including the desired route for future light rail transit service in under-served neighborhoods and plans for commercial and residential buildings near the proposed route.

After the tour, I visited the site of the future Birmingham Intermodal Facility, which, when completed next year, will tie together local buses, Amtrak, intercity buses, cars, and bicycles, and provide what’s rightly been called “a new front door for Birmingham.”

Photo of Secretary Foxx speaking at the Birmingham Intermodal Facility event

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At NABI’s headquarters in Anniston, Alabama, workers are building state-of-the-art transit buses that help millions of Americans connect with their jobs.  What they do is important not only for Anniston, but for the entire country.

This morning, I saw for myself the great work they do to provide transit agencies throughout the nation with new, reliable, fuel-efficient buses.  I even got to see some buses that are destined for WMATA in Washington, DC – so one day soon I might get to ride one.

Photo of Secretary Foxx speaking at NABI event

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